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Swarming UAVs Dropped from F/A-18s

103 PERDIX in Collaborative Group Three US Navy F/A-18s recently dropped a swarm of UAVs in ongoing tests to evaluate collaborative behaviour and the potential value of swarming air-launched UAVs. Swarms of collaborative UAVs could achieve surveillance missions currently undertaken by larger, more costly systems such as REAPER.

A total of 103 PERDIX drones, originally developed by MIT, communicated on a peer-to-peer basis and then conducted a series of manoeuvres mimicking a surveillance mission. A DoD statement explained “PERDIX are not pre-programmed synchronised individuals,” but a collective organism, sharing a single distributed brain for decision-making. Each entity communicates, collaborates and adapts to the presence of its peers meaning new drones can enter and exit the swarm ad hoc.

Work at MIT, overseen by the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, has led to PERDIX being more resilient and resistant to damage from turbulence during high speed launch. The drone can now withstand speeds up to M0.6 and temperatures of -10°C. It weighs under one pound and is built largely from carbon fibre and COTS components, making it a theoretically extremely cost-efficient solution.


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